By April Sliwak | Founder of Her Life Speaks
Happy New Year! My prayer is that you will move forward in 2024 with a new perspective and vision of what you want your health, family, relationships and devotion to the Lord will look like. Turning the calendar to a new year can mean a fresh start, a move, courage to change, self-care, hobbies and so much more. For me, it’s all of the above.
During my sabbatical, the Lord gave me the gift of reflecting on where I am in this season of my life without any distractions or responsibilities and to accomplish some things that lead me to what’s next:
The numerous sentiments she received dating back to 1959 in her recovered Thank You letters, were evidence of my mother’s legacy. My mom was an incredibly faithful prayer warrior, she was loyal and loving to her family and church, a gracious leader, and certainly forgiving. My sabbatical gave me sweet uninterrupted time to reflect on who she was as a young woman, wife, Human Resource Director, church leader, mom, friend, sister, aunt and a Yaya. I thought about her time here on earth, and how she influenced and changed the lives of so many people.
I thought about her story and started to evaluate my own. God showed me in real time how He’s positioned us here for a short season of history, and the opportunities to love God and others through forgiveness, kindness and being intentional as my mom did.
CS Lewis’ story also reveals how a committed circle of loyal friends is crucial to navigating life. God doesn’t want us to be isolated. He commands us to the “one anothers” written in the Bible:
What are the One Anothers?
The Lord showed me again about how the calling on a person’s life, while here on earth, can be powerful and change lives.
Basically, did I love the Lord with all my heart, soul and strength, and did I love others and myself? Luke 10:27
What did I do with my life?!!
What will our legacy look like? This, in my opinion, IS the question to contemplate and seek out everyday because each moment becomes a lifetime, (until God takes it), and that, my friends, will be our legacy. I saw that clearly in my sabbatical.
Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Esther 4:14b
Let’s not miss our opportunity to make a difference wherever God has placed us. Let’s be that light to others. Let’s not say no, someone else will do it, or watch from our couches, or just complain. Let’s take action, show God’s love and leave legacy as so many did before us in the Bible, like Jesus.
Please don’t misunderstand me, legacy doesn’t mean it has to look like a famous author and scholar, no. It can look like writing notes of encouragement, picking up the Bibles around the pews, praying, offering a friend a space to be heard, attending a Bible study, reading a daily devotional, or attending a worship service, shoveling someone’s snow, giving someone a ride, standing up for justice, offering grace, going to jury duty, forgiveness, or giving, (sacrificially), from your means. Loving yourself is taking good care of yourself by setting boundaries, seeking counsel, forgiving yourself or someone else, asking for help, resting or not comparing.
Legacy is leaning into your gifts and talents to serve others while glorifying the Lord, to be Christlike.
Legacy is seen when we love the Lord, others and yourself. That’s what I know for sure through my experiences and people's stories while in my sabbatical.
Legacy will be the stories others share about you, read about you or mimic.
Legacy can be found in your recipes, menus, pay stubs and venmo account. It can be seen through your (grand)children, Bible study attendees, and as a result of your devoted prayers.
Legacy is how we live our life today.
In my season of restoring the soul, contemplation, and gratitude, the Lord has led me into retirement as Executive Director of Her Life Speaks.
It’s been an honor to serve the Lord through Her Life Speaks, (formally Oasis Ministries), for 15 years. I loved it. I believe the Lord used the ministry to touch the lives of thousands of families across the country.
The mission for Her Life Speaks is for women and girls to hear and know that Jesus loves them by sharing our faith stories and testimonies.
We hosted annual retreats, The Beauty Project for girls, Bible Studies, Leadership Training Workshops, Getaways, Afternoon Tea, Lent studies, Prayer meetings, Small Groups for women and girls, National Day of Prayer events, and so much more. It was an amazing time that the Lord gave me to serve and I’ll treasure it for the rest of my life.
Thank you to my leadership team and all the volunteers past and present who poured their time into blessing women because they wanted to give back to others what the Lord had done for them.
“He loved us before we knew him” 1 John 1:19
You used your gifts to make everything possible. Your prayers, wisdom, and obedience to serve and encourage women’s lives was gracious and done with integrity; to glorify the Lord. This is your legacy. I’ll never forget it and learned so much from you all.
Thank you to all the churches and Pastors who supported HLS and believed in my vision. Your “yes” was a great encouragement to me.
I’m thankful for my friends and mentors who held a space for me to be heard, to pray for me, and who gave support for my vision for the last 15 years. You were a comfort and were always there for me.
A very special thank you to my daughters, Christina, Erika and Rebecca, who have literally supported me any time I needed it and even when I didn’t know I needed it. Thank you for all their wisdom, truths in love, prayers and help with the ministry. You’re incredible women of faith and devotion and I love you.
For my husband, Dan, who always supported me, thank you. You are gracious, patient, and generous. I couldn’t have done this without your blessing and being in my corner through it all. I love you.
I am thankful for each of you who have responded and supported the ministry in countless different ways. You’re great and please continue to seek the Lord and in your story. He loves, sees and knows you right where you are. El Roi, You-are-the-God-Who-Sees Genesis 16:13
Finally, thank you, faithful and gracious, loving and merciful, Lord, for using someone like me to make my vision a reality. I thank you for all that you’ve done here and may You abundantly bless, more than we can imagine or hope for, all that You accomplished through HLS. I pray that every seed planted will become a harvest that will reach more women and girls.
In Jesus name, Amen
My last day of service for Her Life Speaks will be January 31, 2024. The ministry will be on a pause unless the Lord raises up a new Executive Director. Please keep this in your prayers so the mission can go on to reach the next generation of women leaders.
If you have a story or something to offer that you’d like to share about HLS or anything that touched your heart, kindly send it firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail:
Her Life Speaks PO Box 8160 Glen Ridge, NJ 07028.
God bless you and thank you again. I’ll never forget all that we did and the beautiful, amazing women I met along the way. God is good!
It was fun!
Love in Christ,
Founder and Executive Director
By: April Sliwak | Founder
“This summer I’ll be called into stillness. Stillness with the Lord to hear from him; all the things he wants to say to me that perhaps I was too busy to hear before. Stillness to be heard; to pray, dream and ask”; excerpt from my July Newsletter.
Thank you for your prayers for the healing of my wound. God is faithful and is a Healer.
In this season I studied Ann Voskamp’s, Waymaker, a six-session guide including a weekly video with self-reflection questions. I had the pleasure of meeting Ann in Ocean City, NJ with my daughters, sister, and friends at the Tabernacle in July. It was so sweet to hear her lovely voice and message and then to meet her afterwards. The experience was complimentary and solidifying to what I heard from God in my stillness; “Yes, you’ve been too busy to hear me before but now that I have your attention, I’m calling you, my beloved April, into a season of a sabbatical.”!
This time I will not be making my own plans but instead, I’ll be obedient.
He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. Psalm 23:2-3
Friends, I’ve been serving in Her Life Speaks for seven years and God is calling me into a Sabbatical this year until January 2024. What is a Sabbatical and its purpose? Well, it’ll be a period for me to spend time with God. It’s a time for soul care, travel, receiving and to be still. A season of prayer, reading, worship, and doing nothing at all. A time for me to just sit, feel, and listen. A Sabbatical is a time to reconnect with the Lord and to be blessed by the loving kindness and unconditional love He offers.
I covet your prayers as I navigate stillness. This should be interesting and I can’t wait for all that God has to show me. I thank you as you continue to support Her Life Speaks and its mission.
Has God called you into something new this season? Are you afraid? Excited? Will you be obedient? Will you trust?
Friends, while I’m away on sabbatical, I’ve appointed ShaBree Henry, Program Specialist for Her Life Speaks, to be the Interim Executive Director. ShaBree joined HLS 18 months ago and she jumped right into ministry to serve women and girls, particularly with The Beauty Project.
ShaBree’s servant leadership was evident right from the start. She is a mastermind behind programs, organization, social media, marketing, and management. She’s gifted in discernment and encouragement and ShaBree loves the Lord. I trust her and have leaned into her for sage advice, prayer, and support.
Please join me in supporting ShaBree as she oversees Her Life Speaks in my absence. Keep her in your prayers anytime you think of her and send her an encouraging message or prayer if you feel led to: ShaBree@herlifespeaks.org
With a heart full of gratitude,
In the spring of 2022, a friend and ministry leader invited me to attend a Her Life Speaks’ Tea Party. I said, “Yes!”, to her invitation, because who doesn’t like tea, yummy cookies, sandwiches? ️ Since then, the rest has been a “God Story”!
For the past 18 months, It's been an honor to be “in community” and serve as the ministry’s Program & Development Strategist. It’s been a blessing to work closely with our leaders to strategically develop sustainable program experiences that will allow women and young girls to identify God in their stories.
During the day, I am a Literacy Teacher, a Certified, Master Neuro-Transformational Results Coach, Story Midwife, and Publisher. Most importantly, I have a mandate from God to help women give birth to their stories. When I’m not writing, reading, or publishing, you can find me experimenting with a new vegan recipe and spending time with my family.
While April is on sabbatical, I am honored to serve as the Interim Executive Director. We will continue to connect women to Jesus by providing a community to discover the power of HER own story through HIS.
Tell your daughters about it, and let your daughters tell their daughters, and their daughters the next generation. Joel 1:3
By: April Sliwak
Founder of Her Life Speaks & The Beauty Project
Summer. Ahhhhhh…. It’s here!
Did you make plans for a vacay, staycay, day trip, new menu, new regiment, new job, new wardrobe, a new book, or a new boyfriend?! Is your schedule busy already? Did you include yourSELF care or yourSOUL care? It has been said, “If you want to make God laugh, make your own plans!”. That’s what I must have done. Made God laugh. Hysterically.
I had a wound injury a month ago which will take some time to heal. Lots of time. The whole summer of time. I won’t be at the pickleball court or walking anywhere soon. The plans I had to fellowship, swim, and travel got kiboshed. I confess that I was confused, angry, disappointed, and sad at what my new summer was going to look like. But God reminded me:
“All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.
As I lean into this verse, I know the Lord allowed this to happen and he has a purpose for it. My mindset has had a shift toward hope, trust, and anticipation. This summer I’ll be called into stillness. Stillness with the Lord to hear from him; all the things he wants to say to me that perhaps I was too busy to hear before. Stillness to be heard; to pray, dream and ask. I may have made God laugh, but he certainly got my attention. Who can ask for more?
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
If we want to be heard, known, and seen as women, how will you include stillness with God into your summer routine?
Believing in you.
By April Sliwak
Founder of Her Life Speaks and The Beauty Project
Wow! Praising the Lord for his grace, mercy and love over the The Beauty Project in Ocean Grove, NJ on April 29, 2023. It was super windy, rainy and chilly, but that didn’t stop God from receiving all the glory on his day to shine. And did He shine! The Youth Temple was a beam of light where girls, moms and young women gathered from NJ, PA, NY and CT. Women were drawn to a little square mile at the Jersey Shore to be encouraged about their Identity in Christ.
You are God’s Masterpiece Ephesians 2:10 was the theme scripture as we centered our planning and hopes for conviction and change for our future women leaders. Girls left empowered by knowing who God says they are and not what the “world” labels them as. Girls are created with gifts, talents and for God’s purposes. Hearing comes by faith and faith reminds us that we are girls and women who are worthy, loved and enough as God’s
heritage. We are created for God’s purpose in the places we’re planted.
Madi Prewett Troutt, our guest speaker, spoke eloquently about knowing and claiming who we are as God’s daughters and to let go of the lies we believe. While I passionately equipped moms and young women to love the Lord, others and themselves by using scriptures and stories from raising my daughters. The girls received a special treat as Lauren Caron challenged them to be intentional about having and choosing healthy
relationships. A double portion by worship leader, Vanessa Malinesi, as she shared her story and led the audience with truth in song.
The Lord is faithful and we saw him throughout the day shining his light.
We’re so thankful for all those who attended, our sponsors, the volunteers and especially the team of women who led The Beauty Project into fruition. They were each amazing, gracious and selfless in their service to the Lord.
On a personal note, I’m so humbled and grateful to the Lord for the opportunity to lead women into their giftedness, and to use my story as it interceded with God’s plans to gather in community so girls would hear and know that God loves them!
Were you there on that day?
I’d appreciate hearing your takeaways and inspirations from The Beauty
Project in the comments or by email: email@example.com
Her Life Speaks is all about Her testimony, Her life, and who God is in Her story. Here we write our stories in hopes of helping other women find their relationship with Jesus Christ.